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Industrial Productivity 
and M a n li fa c t It r i n g 
Technology 


A Spinoff 

From 

Mariner 


Today only dimly remembered by space en- 
thusiasts and not at all by the general public, 
the Mariner missions of the 1960s and 1970s 
constituted one of the most successful of all 
NASA programs in the early days of U,S. space 
research. 

The Mariners were a family of planetary 
spacecraft for studies of Venus and Mars, There were nine of them; 
three failed during or shortly after launch, but the others scored 
spectacular successes for their day. 

Launched in 1962, Marlner2 passed within 
10,000 miles of Venus and became the first 
successful planetary probe. Mariner 4 (1964), a 
Mars explorer, was the first spacecraft to return 
pictures of another planet. Mariner 5 (1967) 
made the second U,S, flyby of Venus, closer this 
time at 2,500 miles from the planet's surface. 

Mariners 6 and 7 (1967-69) flew within 2,000 
miles of Mars and provided some 200 pictures. 

Mariner 9, launched in 1971, went into orbit 
around Mars, sent thousands of photos of the 
Red Planet and Its moons, and mapped one- 
third of the Martian surface. 

The Mariners were developed in a period of 
rapidly advancing technology, so each model 
contained some improvements over its prede- 
cessor, The last four, Mariners 6 through 9, represented a second 
generation of the family, larger, heavier and considerably more so- 
phisticated than the earlier spacecraft. 

These latter Mariners incorporated a great deal of what was then 
considered leading edge technology— a variety of advances in on- 
board power, scientific instrumentation, communications and 
imaging/data transmission systems. Among all these improvements 
was an unsung technology: a dry film lubricant designed to meet the 
special needs of Mariner missions. Developed for NASA by Dr. 
Robert D, Nelson of Stanford University, it offered exceptional 
lubrication quality for reduced friction and extended wearlife of 
mating parts operating in harsh interplanetary environments where 
temperatures ranged from well below ^eroto 500 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The technology was subsequently acquired and refined by 
Micro Surface Corporation, Morris, Illinois, which markets the 
lubricant as the WS2 modified tungsten disulfide coating, A pressur- 


A space-derived dry 
lubricant leads a 
sampling of technology 
transfers in industrial 
productivity and 
manufacturing technology 



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ized refrigerated ait application process impinges a dry metallic WS2 
coating without heat, curing, binders or adhesives. The lubricant 
coating binds instantly to any metal or resin substrate with a 
thickness of 20 millionths of an inch. 

In the aftermath of the Mariner missions, the dry film lubricant 
found Its way into industry use, but only by aerospace and defense 
contractors. In 1984, Micro Surface introduced WS2 to general 
industry and it has since compiled an excellent performance record 
in an ever-widening range of applications among the automotive, 
medical equipment, plastics, tool and die, and robotics industries* 
It has been used, for example, to coat machine 
tools, industrial gears and bearings, electric 
motors, compressors, cryogenic pumps and 
small firearms. 

In the plastics industry, WS2 users have 
found that in some operations, such as blow 
molding, injection molding and extrusions, 
the coating increases production by reducing 
the drag between tool steel and resin. In auto- 
motive applications, it is used to reduce friction 
and wear by Ford Motor Company, General 
Motors and Chrysler Corporation in such 
components as auto bearings, transmissions 
and engine internal parts* In special applica- 
tions, it is used by racing hydroplanes cars of 
the "Indy,'' NASCAR and Winston Cup types. 

In addition to reducing friction and wear, 

WS2 offers a number of other advantages, 
depending on the application; generally, it helps improve product 
quality, extends equipment service life and eliminates or reduces 
costly maintenance problems. It is finding growing acceptance and 
Micro Surface's list of WS2 customers reads like a Who's Who of 
American Industry* In addition to the U.S* automotive Big Three, a 
random selection includes American Can Corporation, Continental 
Can Corporation, Kimberly Clark Company, Dow Corning Corpo- 
ration, Ethyl Corporation, General Electric Company, Phillips Pe- 
troleum, Whirlpool Corporation — and, of course, NASA. 


hi the top photo general manager Ed Fabtszak of 
Micro Surface Corporation displays a tool for 
making ptastic parts that has been coated with 
WS2, a dry iatricant originatty devdoped for space 
use which has foumi a wide range of practical 
Earth uses. A few of the many appiications: in 
manufacture of plastic parts such as those shown 
above, companies coat injection molds to reduce 
sticking and increase production; automatlve 
companies use WS2 to lubricate a variety of 
such as the pistons shown at lower teft, fa reduce 
friction and wear; in the robotics industry, bearings 
and sleeves (upper ieft) designed for repetitive 
movements are coated to extend their useftil lives, 
as are the drill bits and mUling tools (near left) 
used in heavy industry and machining. 



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